Godiva and I

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Constantinus, Nov 22, 2014.

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  1. Tancred was a big man.

    Standing a full foot taller than any of his brothers (save his oldest, who was almost as big as him), he was so large that even his palfreys looked of destriers. He almost preferred a nice strong warhorse to the little riding ponies, almost. They were expensive, and uncomfortable to ride.

    But when he wanted to make an impression...

    An armored knight, astride an equally armored horse, a lance strapped to its side, a shield on his back, a sword at this hip. He was intimidating. Redhand; that's what people called him.

    Tancred Redhand. It was a great name. It made people afraid of him. And nothing made Tancred happier than knowing people were afraid of him. It made him chuckle; whenever he chuckled, he stroked his beard.

    “What the hell are you going on about, up there?”

    Tancred looked back, snapping out of his reverie. “Just laughing is all, little brother. You should try it sometime. Maybe people won't think you're such a-”

    “I laugh plenty,” said Bohemund, pointing an unsteady finger at him. He tried to point at least, but he couldn't quite manage. The road was too rocky; they weren't on a major highway. “And who's idea was it to get on this damned road, anyway? This sucks. It's going to rain soon, and we haven't seen civilization for three days.”

    “Why do you have to whine so much?” said Odo the youngest, riding lazily behind the two, “All you do is bitch, bitch, bitch. We should have left you in the last town; you enjoyed the company there enough to stay.”

    Bohemund flustered, scrabbling with his thoughts in a vain attempt to construct a witty riposte. His wit, like his liver that night before, failed him. “Well,” he said, blushing and trying to hide it beneath his cloak, “She looked better in the dark.”

    “I think even the god of the fugly trees would have looked good after how much you had to drink,” said his younger brother, “Which was, you know, half of what the rest of us had.”

    Tancred Redhand burst out into laughter. He was having a fine day. It was a pleasant morn, the fifth of April, and it wasn't too cold here. Excellent riding weather, by anyone's standards (except maybe by Bohemund's; he was really sensitive to the elements). Wind whisted; Odo coughed. He had been stabbed in the lung once by an old woman's blind and deaf son, in the middle of a field on that woman's uncle's stepson's land. It was a long story, and Odo had been falling-down drunk that day. He should have died, but he didn't.

    Hence, Odo Ironlung.

    He had been lucky that his beard hadn't taken any serious damage. It helped keep him warm, and that had been in the middle of a January. Tancred's beard helped keep him warm, too. Bohemund was jealous.

    But not as jealous as Tancred the Crook, who had once been the fourth Earl of Armoinnais, but was now just a priest. And not even a parish priest; no parishes wanted him. The Church gave him a stipend to stay away. He was their cousin, and Odo and Bohemund had grown up with him. That's why he was around.

    Tancred Redhand just thought he was there to steal stuff. Everyone thought about the Crook. He really didn't do it, anymore, but nobody believed him. They told him so during their confessions to him; it was hard to be Tancred the Crook.

    It was the four of them, travelling all alone to this foreign, fancy-pants kingdom. Well, 'alone' was really a misapplication of the word. Since, being royalty, they carried with them an unnecessarily large royal entourage, replete with cooks, runners, servants, slaves, falconers, cotters, stablehands, tanners, skinner,s coblers, masons, carpenters, roofers, tilers, weavers, rooster-hands, guards, captains, three bankers, and a goldsmith. And this was just the first caravan.

    It was hard, being royalty.

    Tancred Redhand was excited about their journey. Way more excited than Bohemund was. They were going to a wedding. Tancred's wedding. Not the Crook's; he was celibate (not that anyone believed that either). Bohemund tended to hate weddings. Getting drunk was fun, but all the girls there had brothers. And brothers always had a problem when other men starting hitting on their sisters. When he was seventeen, Bohemund had gotten four black eyes and a broken arm over the course of one year by becoming severely intoxicated at weddings. Sometimes, it was hard to be Bohemund.

    “So do you think she's going to be good-looking?” asked Odo. He had caught up to Tancred Redhand, and was riding beside him. Bohemund and the Crook were slightly further back.

    “Why do you care?” said Tancred Redhand, “She's not going to be your wife.”

    “Well, I can still look at her before she's married, right?” said Odo.

    They all shared a deeply held conviction that even looking in that way at a married women would damn your soul to Hell. Their mother had seen to that, and she believed that her husband was going to Hell every single moment of every single day. Her boys (she had never had any daughters) were all deathly afraid of going to Hell when they died, and they all believed that the quickest way to go there was to look at a married woman.

    Tancred would even go into one of his murderous rages over the offense. Bohemund and gang (that's how Bohemund thought of everyone, anyway) always made sure to keep their glances downward when around the betrothed.

    Everything else was open season, though. If you couldn't touch or talk, you could at least look.

    “If I catch either of you looking at the no-doubt gorgeous woman who is to be my wife, then I will beat you to death with a pointy rock,” said Tancred Redhand, plainly.

    The Crook smiled, saying, “Well, I appreciate the vote of confidence, and I agree-”

    “I was talking to you, clothy,” said the elder Tancred, “It's Odo whom I trust the most in the presence of my lovely bride. He respects me enough to know that she is off-limits. I have no need to lecture him.”

    The Crook grumbled. He said, “I am a man of the cloth.”

    “You're also Tancred the Crook,” said Bohemund, literally ribbing him.

    The priest seethed with anger, putting his hand on his bow. Touching it calmed him, although he would really love nothing more than to draw it and kill this blasphemer. But if he did that, then his aunt would get ahold of him. And nobody wanted that. She had had a fifth kid, once, but he died of a mild fever. So, she had his doctor hung, drawn and quartered. Then burned for good measure. After that, everyone else just figured out that her kids were kind of excluded from the whole backstabbing and trecherous-murder game.

    The Crook glanced sideways at Bohemund. He said, “Hey, Bohemund.”

    Bohemund looked up at him, “What?”

    So, Tancred the Crook, ex-Fourth Earl of Armoinnais, poked him in the eyes with his first and second fingers.

    Bohemund yelled and grabbed at his face, clawing at his bruised sockets. His brothers exploded into laughter, stopping their palfreys to take in the sight. Bohemund, barely able to see, took a swing at his tormentor. The Crook didn't even have to move in order for it to miss. The third son completely whiffed with his wide open right hook.

    It completely unbalanced him. And one of Bohemund's feet came out of its stirrup. He tumbled from his horse, his entire body pitching over one side. Don't worry, though, his other foot was still in its stirrup, and instead of just collapsing into the ground, Bohemund ate dirt, his head swinging into the earth and bouncing.

    When the dust settled, Bohemund was hanging off his horse, still attached to it. He had a hell of a headache, and both of his brothers were laughing heartily. They had to support each other to keep from falling, themselves. It was only funny until you lost an eye, then it was hilarious.

    The third prince spat out a little dirt and a few rocks. He hoped that none of it was his teeth.

    “Come on, Bohemund,” said Tancred Redhand, “We need to get a move on. I'd hate for our staff to catch up to us. You want to talk about a whiney bunch of crybabies. They make you seem like Geoffrey the Great.”

    Bohemund just moaned. The Crook got down to help him up.

    Odo Ironside just laughed.
    • Love Love x 1
  2. At his birth Eudocia had labored for hours; the pains had began early in the evening, while she had been pouring over a map of Descen. How many midwives had assisted? Five? Six? Ten? She could not tell. It was all a blur of pain, blood and spitting leather straps until, at the break of dawn, he screamed his way into the world.

    Good lungs. Strong, alive and a boy. A fine omen that he was delivered with the first snows of the season, because his path would be soft as snow. Men are not born for softness, and mine shall be great.

    A little over ten months had passed since her wedding day to a man she had not expected to wed. Her betrothed had gotten himself killed before the wedding party reached the gates of the Keep. Alliances never were about people, her late Grandfather used to say, they were about purpose. And in a purpose such as this one man was much like another. The only blemish in the facade of gleeful pretense was that the groom had chosen to wear his dead brother's wedding attire and then proceeded to keep as silent as the grave for the duration of the feast.

    Their first night as husband and wife was not terrifying as many of her elderly aunts warned her it would be, but as she had expected, every romantic tale sung at banquet halls and tourneys was wrong. Terribly so. Still, everyone seemed surprised to see how quickly it had all come to fruition; three weeks into her marriage the morning found her head first into a porcelain bowl. Then came the advice and the bed rest, the coos and the well wishes. Eating hare would make the child restless, fish would take his hearing away and passing over a rope would see it breech. Confined in her -spacious and rather comfortable, if truth was to be told- apartments, Eudocia carried with her a growing belly and an ever obliging, ever giggling flock of talking hens. Lady Maered was a distant blood relation of the crown of somewhat dubious origin, Lady Ulrika had recently married his Highness the Lord Commander of the Royal Guards and little Sevilia, the youngest of them all, was supposed to be her personal ward and occasional jester. Poor child could not be funny even if her life depended on it.
    The young woman barely saw Bohemund; not that she had ever actively sought him out either. Since she had been delivered of a son her rooms were moved to the west wing, which was, thankfully, much closer to the library. Of course such a word was only a euphemism for a dark, rat infested and moth plagued hall that carried half a dozen shelves of badly organized scrolls. Her heart had nearly jumped out of her chest at first sight, but after a few shouting matches with the housekeepers and some very much needed additions paid by her personal allowance, the place had began to resemble the human domain again.
    Her son fussed in his sleep. His crib, of ebony and ivory plaques, was placed beside her bed at all times; the only thing the nursemaids were allowed to do was change his smelly diaper whenever he required it. At only three weeks of life that was all he seemed interested in. A high pitched wail caused her to jump as the little prince bawled his hands into fists and turned an angry shade of red; he was clean, so that could only mean one thing. “Come, you little rascal. Haven't you sucked enough of me today? No, no, shhhh...” It was getting easier now and the boy seemed to latch on to the breast without any guidance. She settled against the back of her chair and leaned down to kiss his ruff of thin hair. Sentimentality, she reminded herself. He tugged at her with more force, but she did not care. He was hers and she was his and maybe, just maybe, everything the old crones said about first children were true. Another kiss, a whisper in another tongue. Lady Eudocia lifted her head to look at her women, threatening to smile.
    “The Lord God was given me fine spirits today, Ladies. Fetch me my husband.”
  3. Bohemund was in the chapel, giving Confession.

    When he had first gotten hitched, one of the first things that Tancred the Crook had made him do was construct a chapel in the manor for the proper dissemination of the Faith. It had been built out of an old storage closet that they expanded. The construction project had not been without its difficulties, like when Odo knocked out part of the wall to a visiting dignitary's private washroom.

    It had been a bad day to be Odo, and he was lucky his other lung hadn't been stabbed too.

    Bohemund had nearly blown his lid when he found out much it had all cost. The whole project had really been hindered by how cheap he was. Frivolous luxury was one thing; practical things were another. If he couldn't eat it or drink it or use it to show off how much money he had, then he hated spending anything on it.

    Tancred had refused let him turn it into some silly display of wealth. So, Bohemund went the opposite direction, and he tried to spend as few funds as possible on it. No silver plate. No fancy benches with cloth on them. No fancy mitre for Tancred. Bohemund called it a humble house of God; Tancred just called him a cheapsake. After a lot of wrangling and unnecessary namecalling, the small chapel had been completed.

    It served as a place of worship where the indigenous religion of Bohemund and his entourage could be practiced. And best of all (to himself, at least), Tancred was their priest. He had never actually been a priest for anywhere before, and he took his job very seriously. In addition to keeping his flock in line, Tancred would sometimes actively proselytize, trying to draw in as many new worshippers as possible.

    This proved a difficult task. He was, at the end of the day, still Tancred the Crook.

    But he still tried.

    He had Bohemund in the confessional right now. They were trying to work one out. It was hard work, especially for Tancred.

    “You have to actually confess what you did last Thursday, if you are actually going to be forgiven for it,” said Tancred.

    Bohemund waved his hands in the air, not that Tancred could really see it through the screen. When the place had been built, Tancred had had a small confessional booth built in one of the corners. He got in one end, the confessor got in the other, and they had Confession. It was one of his priestly sacraments. Bohemund disagreed. He said that he knew it was Tancred, and Tancred knew it was him, so why bother hiding behind a veil.

    Tancred ignored him.

    “But I didn't do anything,” said Bohemund, “That was not my fault. I did not personally do anything wrong. I did not harm anyone. How can I say I'm sorry or seek forgiveness for something that was not my-”

    Tancred hit the frame of the little box. He pointed a finger at Bohemund and said, “That poor man lost three chickens and a goat over what you did-”

    “What I did?! I didn't do anything! I didn't ask Ms. High-Fallutin'-What's-Her-Face to go the market. I have no idea why in the Hell you think that-”

    “Don't you talk like in a place of God! Confess for swearing in Church!”

    “I will not do any such thing. I don't think I did anything wrong. God doesn't think I did anything wrong. YOU think I did something wrong, Tancred. You. You're a terrible-”

    Just as this pot was coming to a boil. After the screaming had begun to start, but before actual fisticuffs broke out, a knock came on the frame of the booth. It was short and sharp.

    Tancred exploded into a thunderous roar, “Who dares to disturb a Man of God as he administers one of His Holy Sacraments?!”

    The servant was taken aback at first, but he overcame his hesitancy. “I apologize, Father, but I come bearing orders from our fair lady. She wishes the presence of her husband.”

    Bohemund could not wait to find an excuse to leave this little crappy plywood shack behind, and he was out of the door before the man had even finished his last sentence. Tancred couldn't react in time to yell, so he just piled out of of the booth, too. Everytime he tried to move toward Bohemund, the latter would take an equal amount of steps back.

    “My wife wants me, Tancred. This can wait until later,” said Bohemund.

    “Oh don't worry,” said the chaplain, “I won't let you forget that you owe God a confession. I'll hound you into the grave.”

    “What if Eudocia wants me to come see her because she wants to have...sexual relations?” asked Bohemund, waggling his eyebrows.

    Tancred sputtered. “Oh please,” he said, “When was the last time you had sex with your wife?”

    Bohemund did not take his words kindly. “You rotten son of a bitch,” he said, “How dare you imply such things about my married life! How would you know?”

    The priest ignored his outrage. “Besides, even if Lady Eudocia does not wish my presence, then I'll just park myself right outside the door. I take my role has guardian of your soul very seriously. I will not allow you to be imperiled by your own obdurancy.”

    The prince seethed. He would have taken a swing at his cousin, but he figured that the hired help probably should see him physically attacking a man of the cloth. So, Bohemund bottled it up; he would be sure to get Tancred later, when he had the chance.

    So, with that, accompanied by his own personal chaplain, Bohemund left the chapel and journied to what he considered to be his wife's half of the manor. He liked it far less than his own half. Her half was filled with things like books and the such. Very boring. Who had time for all that nonsense.

    Certainly not Bohemund. He was a man of action. A man of arms. Of the lance and the sword. Of the bow and arrow. He loved to hunt and make war. Books were only good for maps or fortification designs. Or for the clergy, and Bohemund wasn't a member of the clergy.

    But still, he did find himself enjoying the greater wealth of luxury afforded him in his new country. These lands seemed far wealthier than his own native ones. Robert would kill to have what he had. Old Tancred Redhand really didn't know what he was missing.

    Chuckling to himself, Bohemund found himself suddenly at the door to his wife's room. He looked behind himself, to see Tancred right there.

    “What were you chuckling about?” asked the priest, “I know that chuckle, and it couldn't have been anything good.”

    “Nothing,” said Bohemund, “Just how much I like it here. Being my father's third son didn't work out so bad for me, did it?”

    “Don't forget that you will have a lot of responsibility,” warned Tancred, “Do not waive that off.”

    “Yeah yeah,” said Bohemund, putting hand on the door, “I know. Am I not performing my duty, right now, heeding the call of my wife?”

    And with that, he suddenly entered after knocking once. “Ta-da,” he said, entering the room with a flourish, “I'm here.”
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